Selfish publishing

I was in Düsseldorf last week, alas just a little too late to catch any of the talks at Beyond Tellarrand …which is a shame, because it looks like Maciej’s talk was terrific. Fortunately, I did get to see a lot of people who were in town for the event, and myself and Maciej were both participating in Decentralize Camp the day after Beyond Tellerrand.

Decentralize Camp had a surprisingly broad scope. As Maciej pointed out during his presentation, there are many different kinds of decentralization.

For my part, I was focusing specifically on the ideas of the indie web. I made it very clear from the outset that was my own personal take. A lot of it was, unsurprisingly, rooted in my relentless obsession with digital preservation and personal publishing. I recapped some of what I talked about at last year’s Beyond Tellerrand before showing some specific examples of the indie web at work: IndieAuth, webmentions, etc.

I realised that my motivations were not only personal, but downright selfish. For me, it’s all about publishing to my own site. That attitude was quite different to many of the other technologies being discussed; technologies that explicitly set out to empower other people and make the world a better place.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I must admit that one of the reasons why I write and talk about the indie web is that in the back of my mind, I’m hoping others will be encouraged to publish on their own websites instead of (or as well as) giving their creative work to third-party sites. As I’ve said before:

…on today’s web of monolithic roach-motel silos like Facebook and Twitter, I can’t imagine a more disruptive act than choosing to publish on your own website.

That said, I’m under no illusions that my actions will have any far-reaching consequences. This isn’t going to change the world. This isn’t going to empower other people (except maybe people who already tech-savvy enough to empower themselves). I’m okay with that.

At Decentralize Camp, I helped Michiel B. de Jong to run a session on IndieMark, a kind of tongue-in-cheek gamification of indie web progress. It was fun. And that’s an important factor to remember in all this. In fact, it’s one of the indie web design principles:

Have fun. Remember that GeoCities page you built back in the mid-90s? The one with the Java applets, garish green background and seventeen animated GIFs? It may have been ugly, badly coded and sucky, but it was fun, damnit. Keep the web weird and interesting.

During the session, someone asked why they hadn’t heard of all this indie web stuff before. After all, if the first indie web camp happened in 2011, shouldn’t it be bigger by now?

That’s when I realised that I honestly didn’t care. I didn’t care how big (or small) this group is. For me, it’s just a bunch of like-minded people helping each other out. Even if nobody else ever turns up, it still has value.

I have to admit, I really don’t care that much about the specific technologies being discussed at indie web camps: formats, protocols, bits of code …they are less important than the ideas. And the ideas are less important than the actions. As long as I’m publishing to my website, I’m pretty happy. That said, I’m very grateful that the other indie web folks are there to help me out.

Mostly though, my motivations echo Mandy’s:

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

Have you published a response to this? :

Responses

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain. Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain. Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain. Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

  1. We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar.
  2. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain.

Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.